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RCPS Superintendent discusses process for handling sexual assault allegations

Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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BROADWAY, Va. (WHSV) - Following allegations of a sexual assault involving two students at Broadway High School on Monday, WHSV spoke with Rockingham County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Oskar Scheikl.

While Scheikl was unable to go into any specific details on the alleged assault because it is an active law enforcement investigation, he did discuss the process for handling this kind of allegation.

“Sexual assault is an extremely serious allegation and when an administrator or a teacher is made aware that gets reported immediately,” said Dr. Scheikl.

Scheikl said that it is often a matter of minutes after an allegation like this is made that law enforcement is brought into the loop. The investigation into the alleged assault is now completely in the hands of the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office.

“It doesn’t mean that the school division is ignoring a case but we work with law enforcement to let the professionals who are really good with this lead the investigation and conduct the investigation,” he said.

Scheikl was unable to comment on disciplinary action in this case but said that schools themselves can only suspend a student for 10 days. Anything beyond that is handled by the central office.

“That doesn’t mean that if there is serious criminal conduct in a school that a student is only suspended for 10 days. What it means is that a student is suspended for 10 days because that’s the maximum that a school can do, with a referral for long-term suspension or expulsion,” he said.

Any case in which the expulsion of a student is being considered must go before the school board.

Scheikl said he understands that people are frustrated with the lack of information being released about the alleged assault, but that it’s best to let the law enforcement investigation play out.

“When I look at the social media posts, nothing good comes from sharing information that’s second-hand, third-hand, and then takes on a life of its own,” he said.

Scheikl said the school division can’t release any information beyond what it has to avoid interfering with the sheriff’s office’s investigation.

“Every detail we were to share with the public can become tricky for the law enforcement investigation that needs to be done a certain way and we honor that and it’s the best way to move forward,” he said.

WHSV spoke briefly with Broadway High School Principal Donna Abernathy on Wednesday. She had no comment beyond the statement she released on Tuesday.

Counselors and other mental health resources are available to students.

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